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Short Vowel Phonics I Review by April Elstrom

By Dr. Patricia Norton
Short Vowel Phonics LLC
Landmark Building
309 N. Jefferson #222-C
Springfield, MO 65806

I have taught four children to read, and each one has learned at his or her own pace. But each child would become frustrated when he could sound out short words but could not find appropriate books to practice reading. This was especially hard on the ones who took longer to master the reading skill. They longed to read "real books," but when they attempted to read books above their level and failed, their confidence plummeted. We tried to find simple books at the library and the store, but they included too many sight words or words like "light" that were complicated to sound out. Dr. Patricia Norton faced this very issue with her own son and designed the Short Vowel Phonics booklets for him. She continued to use and perfect them with other struggling readers as a trained reading tutor.

Short Vowel Phonics I consists of 10 booklets. Each booklet covers one short vowel sound, and there are two books for each short vowel sound. The set of booklets I received were printed on regular 8.5 x 11-inch printer paper that was folded in half and sewn into booklets. The books are available in other formats (including hardbound and softbound) at the website. Short Vowel Phonics I is not a complete phonics program. It is designed to supplement your reading program, providing practice and reinforcement.

Each booklet contains no more than 4 sight words, and it uses easily decoded consonant-short vowel-consonant words (e.g., dad, bed, cat). The books are designed to be simple to read, non-distracting, interesting, and short. And they do not give visual cues that would allow children to guess at the words. Each page has a line drawing to complement the text, and the featured short vowel sound is used repetitively for practice. The booklets end with three activities on a worksheet to enable children to continue building their reading skills. Be aware, though, that not all book formats include the worksheets.

When these books first arrived, I was disappointed to find that they were sewn booklets rather than bound books. However, this does make them a more affordable option than the other formats. My son found the stories interesting, although a few of the booklets were too short for his current reading ability. I wish we'd had these a year ago, or even 3 months ago. I am looking forward to using them with future children.

Dr. Norton's Short Vowel Phonics fills a definite need for parents, whether they homeschool or are trying to help their children in after-school hours. These books are perfect for the frustrated or struggling reader. If you have children who can sound out words but cannot yet read most beginning reader books, then these books can help them build their confidence and their reading skills.

Product review by April Elstrom, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2009